Before I get started, I have to say that narrowing things down to only three positives is extremely difficult. Let's just say that this is by no means an exhaustive list, shall we?
Dinos Mitoglou: Destroyer Of Worlds (In The First Half). I was deeply conflicted on whether to give special acknowledgment to Devin Thomas (who was his usual monstrous self) or the Greek Deac, but I decided on the latter because he really kept us in it in the first half, and it was good to see some leadership from the sophomore. Dinos did all of his scoring in the first half, but it was 18 points on 8-9 shooting. That's bonkers. Well done, ,Dinos.
Never Stopping The Fight. When we went down 9 points in the second half, I honestly thought it was over. But Wake Forest didn't stop fighting for anything, playing strong defense against the Hoosiers and slowly chipping away at the lead, largely on the back of Devin Thomas. It was just a wonderful team effort overall. Well done to a man for the Deacs. And let's not forget the Bryant Crawford layups because holy cow.
Dominating The Glass. Again. +13 rebounding margin, and that's with Indiana closing the gap in the second half. It's clear that Danny Manning is teaching the Deacons to crash the glass, and it's helping us to succeed, there's no doubt about that. Evidence: we had 9 more shots than Indiana, and that's with 17 turnovers. Speaking of...
Turnovers. 17 turnovers. Yikes. That can't happen. We really need to tighten that up to continue success. I'm amazed we beat a top 15 team on a neutral floor with that many giveaways.
Lack Of Free Throws (And Low Percentage). We were 6-12 from the line, and that includes a 2-2 from John Collins at the end to seal it. 4-10? How does that happen, especially with this team? I mean, the percentages weren't necessarily as surprising (unfortunately), but the low number of attempts was surprising and concerning to me.
Wing Defense, Again. Granted, the defense shored up bigtime in the second half, but in the first, Indiana was bombing from three like nobody's business. Three pointers and Wake Forest turnovers were the only things keeping the Hoosiers in the game.
The Bottom Line
This was a spectacular game. Not only did the Deacs beat a ranked team on a neutral floor, they did so on a 9-2 run, largely on the backs of freshmen Bryant Crawford and John Collins. I'm not going to presume anything about the game against Vanderbilt tomorrow night, but by golly, we're in the winner's bracket, and win or lose, this team full of largely underclassmen will get another crack at a ranked team. Vanderbilt blew St. John's off the floor, and I'm certainly hoping the Deacs can give the Commodores a lot more of a battle. I have to tell you guys, I did not expect this win, but the team played out of their minds, Coach Manning continues to prove himself more by the game, and there's a spirit behind the program that hasn't been there in several years now. I could scarcely be happier. Let's get to 2-0 in Maui, shall we?
On to the next. Go Deacs.